Legislator urges voting rights for Sri Lankans back home

Sunil Handunnetti
Updated 23 January 2017
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Legislator urges voting rights for Sri Lankans back home

RIYADH: Visiting Sri Lankan legislator Sunil Handunnetti told Arab News that the country’s expatriates should be given voting rights, and that their community schools should be affiliated to the Education Ministry in Colombo.
Handunnetti, chairman of the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) in Parliament, was on a brief visit to Riyadh to tell his countrymen about his brainchild, the Organization for Overseas Sri Lankans (OOSL).
Handunnetti, who was given a red-carpet welcome by his countrymen, met Sri Lankan expatriates in the capital and explored ways of assisting them back home.
He told Arab News that he was happy that Sri Lankan workers are happily placed in the Kingdom, but that their interests in their homeland had to be looked after.
“Irrespective of the period of stay in the Kingdom, Sri Lankans are natural citizens of the island and they should have their civic rights back home. They should be given voting rights to elect their own representatives to Parliament,” he said, adding that his organization would do its best in this regard.
He said returnees from the Kingdom should be given full assistance to earn a living back home, including a duty-free allowance to import machinery to continue their businesses. “They should be given a monthly pension to keep the home fires burning,” he added.
Handunnetti said he had visited some 20 countries and has set up the OOSL in 26 countries. “They have nothing to do with the local set up, and will only work for their countrymen’s welfare back home,” he added.
He said he would make representations to concerned authorities to make overseas Sri Lankan community schools affiliated to the Education Ministry in Colombo, so teachers and students will be treated as if they are in Sri Lankan government schools.
He lamented that Sri Lankan expatriates are treated as foreigners when they want to admit their children to Sri Lankan universities, and that they have to pay exorbitant fees.
He thanked Saudi authorities for hosting his countrymen and thereby helping their homes and motherland.


Saudi sports federation holds aerosports contest

Promoting sports is one of the key objectives of Saudi Vision 2030. (SPA)
Updated 21 October 2018
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Saudi sports federation holds aerosports contest

  • According to a survey only 13 percent of Saudi citizens aged over 15 exercise at least once a week

JEDDAH: The Saudi Wireless and Remote Control Sports Federation organized a fuel helicopter aerosports competition, after which chairman Saud Al-Fogham crowned the winners.
Hamad Al-Rafdan came first, Mohamed Al-Ossaimy second and Ayman Al-Humaidhi third.
Promoting sports is one of the key objectives of Saudi Vision 2030. Different government agencies are taking measures to achieve this goal by organizing different events encouraging Saudi youth to showcase their skills.
In 2015 the General Sport Authority (GSA) conducted the first National Sports Survey and defined active people who participate in sports as “individuals who engage in a specific type of physical activity i.e. planned, structured, and repetitive for the main purpose of improving health and maintaining fitness, at least once a week.”
The survey showed that only 13 percent of Saudi citizens aged over 15 exercise at least once a week. Those findings were a wake-up call for the Kingdom and helped shape aggressive targets to support mass participation that were set in stone within the Vision 2030 plan.
In the first quarter of 2018, another National Sports Survey was carried out under the same conditions and using the same methods, tracking sporting participation at all levels, from those taking up walking a few times a week to improve their health or amateurs beginning to attend weekly classes or clubs to hardcore gym enthusiasts and committed sportspeople.
The previous figure of 13 percent has now increased to 23 percent, helping the GSA beat its interim Vision 2030 target of getting 20 percent of Saudis over 15 exercising by 2020.